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Hitachi develops AI and wearables to assist manufacturing workers

Wed 8 Mar 2017

Hiatchi manufacturing

Japanese manufacturing giant Hitachi has teamed up with a German research institute to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) technology which can recognise workers’ actions in real-time using data collected through wearable devices.

Hitachi partnered with a team of Smart Data & Knowledge engineers from the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) to create an AI solution which integrates with wearables including eye-tracking glasses and armbands embedded with sensors, to assist operations and reduce human error.

According to a Hitachi press release, using the specialised glasses the AI can detect gazed objects, such as screwdrivers and other tools, without being distracted by the surrounding environment. It can then extract the data of gaze points from the worker’s eye movements.

Integrated wearable armbands are further able to recognise basic arm movements, such as twist and push. ‘This technology extracts the data relating to body actions from the microscopic and instantaneous signals that are measured by sensors attached to the arms,’ the release explained.

The researchers created a hierarchical activity model using a combination of the above technologies in order for the AI system to be able to recognise actions such as ‘twisting a screw’. They noted that it would be possible for the AI to recognise a variety of working activities if all of the actions and objects involved are learned in advance.

‘Based upon these technological developments, the AI technology that can recognise activities such as…’pressing a switch’ as part of ‘inspection task’ in real-time was realized,’ said the research team.

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In line with the Japanese Society 5.0 policy, which aims to advance science and technology innovations and a vision for a ‘Super Smart Society’, Hitachi hopes to use the newly developed AI system to assist operations, prevent human error, and to enhance the quality and efficiency of its manufacturing processes.

The company is also developing AI and deep learning solutions across a wide range of other smart society segments, including power and energy, distribution, water, urban development, finance, government, public sector, and healthcare.


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